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Human rights and good governance

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Human Rights
Wordcount: 4976 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Good governance is an necessary element of durable development

is not deniable. It is the key stick of recent Economic growth and rapid social advancement achieved by the newly industrializing economies in East and South-East Asia. It has also altered postulates and shaped perspectives on development economics with some prominence being given to the so-called (East) Asian values and development-oriented governance or a “development State” as a positive force for economic growth and social transformation.

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Human Rights is another burning issue now a days. The growing power of executive authorities sometime causes serious violation of Rights of human. Human right dealt with the rights that every human being routinely qualifies for at birth. These cannot be denied because of the color of one’s skin, religion, age or other personal factors.

Sometime it seems that there are many contradictions between Good Governance and Human Rights, especially then the question of application is come. But in the book “Human Rights and Good Governance” edited by Hans-Otto Sano, an article “Good Governance: How Does It Relate to Human Rights?” the author shows that how they are related with each other, and sometime how they sometime cross their limit and harm each-other. But in the conclusion the author found that in practice actually the Good Governance strengthen human right. And also good human rights condition also helps to achieve the main goal of Good Governance that is Development.

Definition of Good Governance:

The concept of Good Governance has been around for last few decades. In 1969 Philip Selznic sought to develop a law of governance in his study of industrial organization. But this term “Good Governance” emerge on the development agenda. Because there were three important factor that played a great role to raise this issue.

1.The experience of international financial institutes in sub-Saharan Africa in implementing structural adjustment Programs showed that after an initial adjustment phase where macro-economic balance were set straight ,further economic growth failed to materialize. Its showed that empowering the capacity of key government agencies was necessary in order to create an strong environment for sustainable development.

2. The end of the cold war and the associated collapse of communist economic and political system showed the world how potentially damaging big and inefficient state apparatuses could be to economic development. And at the same time the end of superpower competition has given western donors to impose political condition in their policies towards the third world countries. Yes, in these regards the third world countries has lost the paradigm of “negative sovereignty that states that state must not hinder in the domestic affairs of another country.  Even the human rights issues primarily concern the relationship between the state and its citizens; they are increasingly seen as a legitimate concern of the international society. Because the realm of human rights has crossed the boundary of a national state.

3.The third factor is that the emergence of good governance on the development agenda was the remarkable economic boom experienced by the East-Asia which is known as “Emerging Tigers”. These emergence has showed that economic development mainly depends on Good and fair Governance. The World Bank’s publications “East Asian Miracle” in the early 1990 showed that strong and interventionist states can serve to promote economic growth.

In order to define more fully meaning of Governance, we distinguish between the World  Bank and the rest of the donor community. The World Bank sets the agenda and is the dominating actor in aid community. and in the same time its policy is to restricts it from getting involved in the internal affairs of economic factors recipient countries.The Bank’s authorization is limited to economic development, and it can only take non-economic factors into consideration where these are perceived to have an important impact on economic development.

In the same time the donor agencies and the donor states denote Good Governance as something different than Bank’s policy. Here the donor country or agencies emphasize in political affairs.

What do we understand by term “Bad Governance”? In ‘Bad Governance’ the state official doing their job for their own interests and there acts are without accountability, the trust on personal networks for endurance rather than on holding the state accountable, modified politics and patronage, unlawful leadership, and excessive control over information and of associations. The narrow focus on management was thus broadened and supplemented with concepts such as accountability and transparency. The World Bank has changed the focus from narrow management approach to broader and more political governance. In an article Peter Evans showed that there are two newer trends within the development literature. One is focusing on the role of social capital that is norm of trust and networks of reciprocity for economic development and government performance. And the another is focusing on the role of the developmental state that is strong governmental agencies capable of active intervention in the economy for capital development and he bickers that these two trends could be very well integrated. And now a days “Good Governance” is something that will ensure both political development and economic development. So, there are two aspect of  good governance, a political aspect concerning legitimacy and a technical aspect concerning capacity. But sometime it is clear that even though the Bank’s mandate prohibits it from getting involved in domestic politics, the view of governance overlaps with matters of political controversy. So, it is hard to separate politics from economic when good governance is described as ‘predictable, enlightened and open policy- process, bureaucracy with a professional ethos, a government accountable for its actions, a strong civil society participating actively in public affairs and all under the rule of law.

Bilateral donors and the EU are able to be clearer when adopting political conditions for aid. Thus the rest of the aid agencies and stats have given more stresses on political aspect of governance. As an example according to a DAC (Development Assistance Committee) report the technical and the political aspect is the main issue for their aid. And now they emphasized in the concern with the ability of governments to govern effectively and the latter with avoiding that states have excessive power in relating to citizens. In the official publications of Danida (The Danish Development agency) says that good governance is closely linked to human rights and democratization. The consensus about good governance is somewhat super facial. Below the surface there are disagreements concerning what the role of the state should be and which particular governance components should be stressed. Nevertheless, there is on a general level a consensus within the development community emphasizing human rights, democracy, responsiveness, and accountability on the one hand, and capacity, effectiveness and efficiency on the other hand.

Characteristics of Good Governance:

When trying to relate good governance to human rights, it is important to distinguish between various ways of using the concept. Good Governance can be defined in some ideas. Like as a normative ideal, as analytical concept, and as a donor practice

Good Governance has been defined in the Community Consultation Resource Guideas existing when a government governs for and on behalf of its community (p 5). This provides a democratic basis which is essential to an understanding of good governance in the local government sector, with a focus of good governance as it applies to democratically elected governments. Besides this Good governance is consists of eight (8) major individuality.

These are as followings:

1) Participatory,

2) Accountable,

3) Consensus oriented,

4) Effective and efficient,

5) Responsive,

6) Transparent,

7) The rule of law

8) Equitable and inclusive

The principle and practice of democratic governance underpins governance in a local government sector. Democratic governance refers to the democratic nature of local government and the accountability of local governments and their communities. It makes corruption minimized, the suggestions of minorities are taken into account and the most vulnerable group’s voice in society are heard in decision-making. It is also opens society’s present and future needs.

1. Participation

For, good governance one of the key cornerstone is the participation of both men and women. Participation might be either directly or through lawful intermediate institutions or as an agent. The important matter is that the concerns of the most vulnerable in society would be taken into suggestions in decision making does not always mean by representative democracy. Participation must be well-informed and organized. This means organized civil society on the one hand and freedom of association and press and expression on the other hand.

2. Consensus oriented

There are many actors and as many points of view in a certain society. It requires a broad and long-term outlook on what is needed for sustainable human development and how to achieve the goals of such development. Good governance involves mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus in society on what is in the best interest of the community and how it can be achieved. We understand what is best for them by observing the historical, cultural and social contexts of a given society or community

3. Accountability

Accountability is another important condition for good governance. Generally an organization or an institution is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. The governmental institutions and the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders. Who has to be accountable to whom, varies depending on whether decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organization or institution. Without transparency and the rule of law, accountability cannot be imposed.

4. Transparency

Transparency is another main thing to ensure good governance. Transparency means that taken decisions and enforcement of these decisions will be done in a way that will follow the rules and regulations. It also means that information is without stinting available and easily accessible to those who will be affected by those decisions and their enforcement. It also means that sufficient information is provided and these information is provided in easily understandable forms and media.

5. Responsiveness

Institutions and processes will try to serve all stakeholders within reasonable timeframe is another important requirement of ‘Good governance’.

6. Effectiveness and efficiency

To ensure ‘Good governance’, effectiveness and efficiency is another important thing. When processes and institutions decisions meet the needs of  the best use of society’s resources means ‘Effectiveness and efficiency. The concept of efficiency in the context of good governance also coats the sustainable use of natural resources and environment protection.

7. Equity and inclusiveness

Well being of a society depends on ensuring that all members of the society feel that they have a chance in it and do not feel barred from the majority of society. If it is found that all groups, and mainly the most vulnerable, have equal opportunities to improve and continue their well being in the society, then it could be said that the equality and inclusiveness has been ensured.

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8. Rule of law

Rule of law is the root of ‘Good governance’. In a good governed society fair legal frameworks are enforced neutrally. It also needs full protection of human rights, certainly those of minorities. Free and independent judiciary and an neutral and honest police force can ensure the fair enforcement of law.

The Relevance of Good Governance for Human Rights:

Governance as a normative ideal:

The concept of Good Governance and the concept of human rights point at areas of state-society friction and at areas of state-society synergy. Normatively, good governance is frequently understood as also involving respect for human rights, as for instant in this definition: the concept of good governance refers to ‘effective user-friendly’ rules, beneficial to those living under the state’s jurisdiction.

But there may be tensions between good governance and human rights that can be traced back to liberal political thought. To such neo-political thinkers as Friedrich Hayek or Robert Nozick the use of state authority for redistributive purposes is a serious infringement upon the individual’s liberty-rights.According to Nozick, rights are boundaries that demarcate legitimate spheres of action for an individual, that may not be crossed without an another’s consent. An extensive state cannot be morally justified, because it would  violate the rights of individuals not to be forced to do certain things. Nozick’s minimal state is thus inconsistent with “planning in details” and with the active redistribution of resources ‘forcing some to aid others’. Likewise, Hayek is concerned about the democratic element of liberal democracy weighing too much and the liberal elements too little. He distinguishes between law and legislation. According to him the Rule of Law implies limits to the scope of legislation and it restricts it to the kind of general rules known as formal law, and excludes legislation either directly aimed at particular people, or at enabling anybody to use the coercive power of the state for the purpose of such discrimination.

These neo-liberal concerns imply a tension between on the one hand that is negative rights- the rights protecting the individual from the state and on the other hand the positive rights, the rights that require the state to take measures to enhance the economic and social well-being of its citizens. In a neo-liberal view, demands for good governance involving the improvement of social and educational services might conflict with demands for the respect of liberty rights.

On the contrary, the new left would discover other tension between good governance and human rights. They would start out by exploring the ways asymmetries of power and resources impinge upon the meaning of liberty and equality in daily relations. And they would find that large numbers of people are systematically restricted from participating in political life. What use are the formal civil and political rights if such large numbers in reality are excluded from enjoying their rights? Thus, potential tension may derive from the donors emphasis on the political and civil rights rather than on economic and social rights when demanding good governance. To the new left, equality and liberty are not at odds, on the contrary, they are mutually reinforcing, and civil and political rights can best be pursued within participatory framework. And in this framework, the state must be democratized by making parliament, state bureaucracies and political parties more open and accountable while new forms of struggle at the local level must ensure that societies as well as the state are democratized.

This sketch of the positions of the new right and the new left not only shows how tensions between good governance and human rights can be identified but also how observers can differ on their views about which human rights should be accentuated. Clearly, neo-liberals focus exclusively on political and civil rights and therefore ascribe a minimal role to the state. Similarly the new left focuses as much on social and economic rights. What can be concluded from this section, then, is that governance means many things to many people, and that how it relates to human rights depends on how both governance and human rights are defined. In this way it becomes apparent that the normative aspect of both concepts is fundamental for the understanding and usage of the concepts.

Governance as analytical concept:

The core of governance is not essentially about democracy, but it has to do with legitimacy and accountability. Understood this way, it can be argued that the better governance is the more a government is accountable towards its citizens, the more likely this government is to respect basic political and civil rights.

According to Hyden (1992), the core of governance is bounded by four properties which are most important. These are:

a) Authority.

b) Reciprocity.

c) Trust.

d) Accountability.

Trust refers to a normative consensus on the limits of action present in a political community. It is sustained by socialization into the rules of a society. Indicators of trust in a political community are the extent to which individuals and groups in society co-operate in associations that cut across basic divisions such as ethnicity, race, religion, and class

Reciprocity refers to the quality of social interaction among members of a political community. Reciprocal action tends to have the effect of generating new forms of consensus about the basic rules of politics. An important indicator of reciprocity in politics is the extent to which individuals are free to form associations to defend and promote their interests in the public dominion.

Accountability refers to the effectiveness with which the governed can exercise influence over their governor. Both trust and reciprocity are not easily maintained without specific rules of holding political leaders accountable to civil society. Signs of accountability can be showed by holding various forms of election that is fair and thus officials are appointed who are responsible for making their decisions and actions.

Authority is the legitimate use of power. Authority is facilitated by the other three variables but it goes beyond these in stressing the significance of effective political leadership. The authority consists of compliance with not only given policies but also the process by which they are arrived at, that is the extent to which leaders respect rules or change them in ways that are acceptable to the governed.

The more the four variables are present, the greater the likelihood of good governance. From the way the governance sphere is outlined above, it follows that the more authority, reciprocity, trust and accountability there is, the higher the likelihood the individual rights are respected by the state. A political community can hardly be imagined in which there is widespread trust and reciprocity, power is exercised legitimately, and the governor are accountable to the governed, at the same time as severe infringements upon the human rights of the citizen take place. Such a political community would not be able to sustain high level of trust and reciprocity. The use of power in such a society would be arbitrary and raw, not legitimate and constrained by the rule of law.

The governance is also relate to state capacity and governance affect the ability to deliver services to the public and hence promote economic and social rights. Mick Moore argues in a novel and interesting way that democratic governance and state capacity are inextricably connected. A broad system of taxation based on ‘tax per head’ and income tax involves a range of features such as organizational capacity to obtain information about citizen and more broadly, a weberian-type bureaucracy capable of administering a complex tax system. In such system, the state will tend to be accountable towards its citizens rather than towards sources of income such as donors, or big oil or mining company. This is because governments tend to be responsive towards their main income. If this is aid , then government will be more accountable towards donor than towards their own citizens. Moore said that the more government income is ‘earned’, in the sense that the government has to mobilize organizational resources to collect income and provide some service in return. And it is surely promote human rights. But in a weak state, where aid dependency is high and taxation is on trade rather then income, governance will thus tend to be unaccountable.

In the sense that democratic governance means that the state ‘comes closer’ to its citizens and starts negotiating more with the citizens and providing basic services, better governance means higher likelihood that the governance will start respecting human rights that is individuals rights. It has to, if it wishes to secure tax compliance. Accountable governance in fact becomes part of the process of constituting individuals as citizens with rights and duties rather than as subjects. Respecting human rights is inextricably connected to building state capacity, because it involves building a system in which the state depends on its citizens for income and must give them something in return for their contributions. Understood this way, situations could arise in which governance in particular country was unaccountable at the same time as the donor were implementing apparently successful good governance programs, such as financial management programs,  in that same country.

Good governance as donor practice:

Good governance has become ingrained in the aid policies of most donor. Despite difference in the interpretation of good governance, the concept was a part of a growing consensus among donors concerning fundamental assumptions relating to development. One of the assumptions asserted that sustainable economic and social development on the one hand and human rights, democratization, and good governance on the other hand are intertwined in mutually supportive entities. But it is a big questions that does donor practice concerning good governance promote human rights or is the basic assumption only an expression of what ought to be the case.

A way in which good governance program can potentially improve human rights conditions is by strengthening the state’s capacity to deliver service to the public. The kind of human rights abuses which result from bad or non-existent service delivery, the deprivation of people’s basic economic and social rights, are not very direct or visible. The increased involvement of international financial institutions in many countries’ economic policies tended to increase their capacity to manage the macro-economy

In their effort to set macro-economic balances straight, the governments hired more economists and other technocrats and adopted donor-supported civil- service reforms in order to strengthen their core economic agencies such as the treasury and the revenue authority. According to Grindle, ” Other important state capacities, such as the capacity to deliver service to the people or to have a responsive public administration and have deteriorated to the economic crisis.” 

Grindle’s study says that some capacities may be strengthened at the same time as other capacities are weakened. Even a country with considerable economic success may at the same time experience deteriorated social and economic rights conditions. Yet good governance programs may well contribute to improving human rights. For example, donor support for public accounts committee in parliament may lead to less waste of tax-payers money and thus improve the citizen’s political rights. Or, to the extent that public sector reform is a public good because it improves public service and makes them equally accessible to al citizens, successful public sector reform must improve a country’s social rights conditions. The point here is that there is nothing automatic about such a positive relationship between good governance and human rights, as a consequence of the different reasoning behind the usage of the concepts. The good governance concept has a technocratic bias, which aims as an instrument at creating the best possible conditions for economic development.The primary objective of economic and managerial and all the elements involved are first and foremost viewed from an economic and managerial perspective. This follows from the fact that good governance programs were introduced as a remedy to structural adjustment programs and their lack of immediate effects in Africa, as mentioned above. In a good governance perspective legal reforms, for instance, deal primarily with the legal needs of the commercial actors in the market.

In contrast to this, the concept of human rights is explicitly normative, connecting ideas and principles about how a state should act towards its folks. Human rights are a means to the end of human dignity, and therefore they set some minimum standards for what the concept of human dignity should govern. According to the last perspective, good governance should mainly be defined by human rights standards and then by economic and managerial criteria.

Another important difference in the way good governance and human rights are practiced and used by the international community is that good governance consists of recommendations on how the state is to exercise power most efficiently, the relevance of governance is the exercise of power and should be constrained so as to prevent its arbitrary use. The later involves a procedural, formal and legal perspective on governance that differs from political and economic perspectives. There is thus a distinction between rights and recommendations. Rights are formally binding in the sense that they may not be altered unless a formal procedure has taken place, whereas recommendations can be changed without any procedures in order to achieve a better realization of the political or economic objectives. In relation to human right this distinction is central. Political recommendations may lead to greater fulfillment of human dignity, but this does not necessarily lead to an increased respect for human rights. The realization of the contents of rights is of course necessary, but it is not sufficient for human rights because the acknowledgment of rights is in itself important. There is a difference between being given something and being entitled to something.

When using the legal perspective on good governance, it becomes evident that policies of good governance have to be in compliance with human rights standards even though this demand may be viewed as having an immediate negative effect on economic development. The argument that policies, merely by creating economic development, are in compliance with human rights therefore cannot be accepted from a legal perspective.

(Whether there exists a trade-off relationship between human rights and development is highly controversial).This way human rights should be seen as part of the general legal framework in which good governance policies can be pursued, that is an international legal framework which sets some human rights obligations for the governance of state. In describing good governance policies, donors tend to acknowledge human rights as fundamental guiding principles and aspirations to be achieved, but this is not implemented fully since human rights are not treated as legally binding standards guiding the implementation of governance policies. These obligations, however, not only include the obligation to respect and acknowledge human rights as mentioned above, but also an obligation to protect and an obligation to fulfill. Where every state has the possibility of respecting human rights formally by incorporating new laws, not every sate is fully able to protect and to fulfill these rights. Today most human rights problems are not only the problems of recognition of rights, but also the problems of implementation of rights.

In consideration of the above, the relationship between human rights and good governance need not be seen as only a conflicting one, in which human rights are seen as legal corrective to good governance policies. On the contrary, the relationship between good governance and human rights may also been seen as one affording mutual interests, where, on the one hand, governance policies may benefit from legal human rights obligations and, on the other, good governance measures strengthen the protection and fulfillment of human rights.


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